Prague, Jan 20th – Apr 19th, 2022
With Pragovka, Prague has a small but nice industrial factory art zone similar to the likes of M50 in Shanghai or 798 in Beijing. The scale is large for Prague but of course little compared to the Chinese megacities. The concept is similar: A large high-end property development project that uses art as a way to spice up an otherwise quite unpleasant industrial zone. Interestingly, it also came at quite a late time. Pragovka started to take off around 2010´s which is at least one decade later than the aforementioned Chinese counterparts. The ex-factory area in the east of Prague is owned by private person I do not know much about called Mark Salem. Someone who likes to keep a low profile. Which makes me of course intrigued who he is.
Why I talk about M50 and 798 and Pragovka in one paragraph? Because during this visit, it was not only the large factory halls that made me make the connection, but also the art exhibited inside of them. As demanded by the large spaces, the art that was shown inside of them was also mostly large, colorful, made to impact the senses. Theatrical. A bit like a counterpart to the furniture stores located also on the outskirts of Prague, Pragovka displayed large art pieces – paintings, sculptures – suitable for customers with large living rooms or corporate offices.
I honestly did not really penetrate the curatorial concept of this show. Reading all those little letters on paper and on the wall was just too hard compared to the ease at which the large artworks with a strong visual impact could be consumed. Something about science fiction.
I just walked around and took a few photos of especially prominent artworks that caught my attention.
The slightly smaller “The White Room” space with the “Blasts cries laughter” (sub-)show was located in a different part of the building complex and offered a slightly more intimate viewing atmosphere. Artificial lighting (compared to the daylight in the large ground floor space) allowed to sculpt the exhibition experience in a more detailed way.
I found my favorite artwork here, the canvases of Milica Mijajlovic. Why did I like them? Because they were (partially) shiny and glittery? Or because the soft shiny textile used instead of a normal painting canvas emanated something feminine that worked well in counteracting the often-felt masculinity of the painterly process? Or because of their size? Not too small not too big. Just about the size of a human. Or because of their woodcut-like high-contrast nature, yet gentle mild colors? Or because of their slight imperfection that made them appear more human and less like a branded artistic ego-product?
Overall, Pragovka is a very pleasant and accessible place to spend an hour or two. I am curious what its future will be once the surrounding factory ruins are transformed to designer lofts.